Thursday, October 09, 2014

In other news, I'm in the process of making this happen to my bank account:

Front from street.

I've never bought a house on my own before, with all my own money, all by my very own self.

To say I'm very excited (and also a little terrified) would be an understatement.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

As I've mentioned a couple times over the years, I like orchids.  I like seeing native wild ones while hiking, and I like growing the tropical ones at home.  They're just such amazing plants.

Over the years I've had lots of orchid plants, but with various house moves and shifting around, most haven't made it.  Also, I don't have a greenhouse and prefer to keep my home on the cold side during the winter to save energy.  Most tropical orchids don't like that, at least the ones that will also tolerate very warm summer temperatures.

My houseplant-orchid obsession began in 1996, when I was working in a plant shop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I had just finished my Masters degree, which apparently made me either over-qualified or under-qualified for every science job in the area.  So I ended up in retail for a couple years.

During breaks I would read the reference books we kept behind the counter, and the book on orchids was a favorite.  The flower that enraptured me most was Aerangis mystacidii.  It was the one that I kept going back to look at.  It's native to southeast Africa, stays small, and the blooms are clean white stars with long spurs full of nectar.  And bonus: the book said it was strongly fragrant at night and early morning (to attract the moths that pollinate it)!  Even the name sounded like something out of a fairy tale.

I finally tracked down one for sale in 2008. It was a seedling and had never bloomed, but was a healthy plant.  It had three leaves and four roots when I got it.  I hung it on my kitchen cabinet where it got indirect afternoon sun, and it put out a leaf or two per year and lots of roots, but still never bloomed.  However, the plant itself was very compact and pretty, and I was tickled just to have this species that first caught my interest.

I was patient.  And my patience was rewarded.

Nearly six years after this plant came to me, I now have this...

Aerangis mystacidii in bloom

The flowers are beautiful, with the delicate white stars and long spurs that first drew me to the species.

Aerangis mystacidii in bloom

They've been open for a day and a half now, and this morning they developed the fragrance I've been waiting for.  It smells like honey and stargazer lilies and gardenia and lily of the valley and something else I can't define, all mixed up together.  Glorious.

I've bloomed other Aerangis species before (A. citrata and A. punctata), but THIS is the one that got me interested in orchid growing.  This feels like a triumph.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This is really, really beautiful.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

This has been festering in my brain for a long, long while.  Especially since that travesty of justice on Monday.

Can someone please tell me why a person's right to own a gun is more fiercely protected than a woman's right to choose her own medical treatment for her own body?

Please?

Someone?

I need someone to explain this to me so I can stop feeling so completely, absolutely, overwhelmingly disgusted with the country I live in.

I don't know why the Supreme Court or a corporation needs to be involved in the issue of whether or not a woman can use birth control if she so chooses.  I don't know why this is EVEN AN ISSUE AT ALL.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Yes, another cast iron pan. I told you, it's an obsession!

This is called an aebleskiver pan, and is is used to make a Danish pancake/pastry treat, traditionally served around Christmas time.  They're like spherical pancakes made with a rich egg batter, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

I had never even heard of aebleskiver until two months ago when my cast iron obsession started.  I kept seeing these weird pans for sale on eBay, and had to go to Google to find out what they were used for.  Well, predictably, one thing led to another and I ended up with this:

Aebelskiver pan

This is a Griswold pan, made sometime before 1957 (the picture shows the underside).  I bought this at the beginning of April, but it's been in the lye bath since then for de-gunking, and I just got around to seasoning it last week.

As you can see, it has seven hemispherical wells, in which to cook the aebleskiver.  You pour the batter in, then do a series of half-flips to create the spherical pancake-balls.  Kind of hard to explain, so go watch this video.

When you're done, you get these great little treats.  I flavored mine with cinnamon, cardamom, and lemon zest.

Aebelskiver!

This was so fun!  And they were so tasty, served piping hot with powdered sugar and home made strawberry-lemon jam.  Yum!

Aebelskiver!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A couple nights ago, I was at a loss for what to make for dinner. I came up with this:

Home made corndogs!  Mom-of-the-Year award received.

Home-made corndogs. Now as a general rule,  I am anti-corndog. Emma isn't allowed to order them when we eat out, because the commercial ones are just disgusting and contain who knows what.

But these are OK, I think. I serve cornbread on a regular basis, and hot dogs on occasion (as long as I can pick out the brand I like, without all the chemicals).  So... cornbread from scratch, with hotdog pieces baked in. I can do that.

These earned me an amazed look and a hug that nearly knocked me over.

"You made corndogs? You made CORNDOGS? You MADE corndogs? You're the best mom ever!"

Home made corndogs!  Mom-of-the-Year award received.

The first four corndogs disappeared in short order, and the rest are in the freezer to be pulled out as needed. Perhaps as bribes to get the resident pre-teen to clean her room....

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Yes, more cast iron.  It's officially an obsession.  :-)

This is a Griswold #9 griddle, made sometime between 1925 and 1940.  It has a cooking surface diameter of 10.5 inches.  This pan was thrown in for FREE when I bought a dutch oven at an antique store here in town.  (I don't know how I came away with two more pieces of iron... I just went in to look, honest...)

Griswold #9 griddle

It's in GREAT condition.  There was a bit of rust on the bottom side, which easily cleaned up with some vinegar and steel wool.  It left a very small amount of pitting, but as you can see from the photo above, it's barely noticeable.

The cooking surface is completely unblemished.  Look at how smooth it is!

Griswold #9 griddle

I've never owned a griddle before, and I love it.  It's great for things that need to be flipped, since there aren't any sides to obstruct access with a spatula.  All I want to do is cook pancakes now!

Pancakes!